This exhibition is generously supported by Eileen Harris Norton.
This twentieth anniversary presentation of Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ “Untitled” (Beginning) brings back a work created and exhibited by the artist during his 1995 Artpace residency. Chosen by guest curator Robert Storr, Gonzalez-Torres was the first US-based artist invited for Artpace’s inaugural International Artist-in-Residence program.
Gonzalez-Torres (born in Cuba,1957; died in Miami,1996) was raised in Puerto Rico and moved to New York in 1979, where he settled. In his work he used simple materials, including stacks of paper, piles of wrapped candy, strings of lights, beaded curtains, and billboards to evoke often complex political notions. Working as a gay man within the context of the rise of the AIDS epidemic in New York City, Gonzalez-Torres addressed issues around the body, desire, love, and loss in minimally elegant installations that only hinted at specific meanings. He allowed viewers to interact with his work by encouraging them to take sheets from his stacked paper pieces and eat sweets from his candy piles. The presenter of these works has to replenish each one according to his specifications. These works can be seen as metaphors for the body and its regeneration.
In 1991, Gonzalez-Torres produced the first of a series of five beaded curtains. “Untitled” (Beginning) hangs from the ceiling and spans the Window Works gallery, acting as a membrane and a site of passage that beckons viewers to walk through it; the strands caress their bodies as the curtain parts. The colorful beads are at once celebratory and evocative of organic substances.
Gonzalez-Torres’ work was exhibited in major museums and galleries across this country and in Europe. In 1994, a solo exhibition was collaboratively organized by and exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles, the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden in Washington, D.C., and the Renaissance Society at the University of Chicago. A major survey of his work was held at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in February 1995. In 2010 to celebrate Artpace’s fifteenth anniversary, Artpace presented a year-long statewide exhibition of Gonzalez-Torres’ billboards, and the catalogue for this exhibition will be published in early 2015.